I find most CBE members are passionate about the Bible. We are clearly a group of Bible-readers, and we want everyone we know to love and enjoy the Scriptures as much as we do.
I suspect we are also people who, deep down, like to debate (in a redemptive way) the Scriptures, just like the rabbis of ancient Israel. And, if we are honest, some of us will admit that we are also a bit impatient with those who do not share our devotion to the study of Scripture. But God has a way of teaching us to be patient.
The following story comes from my own life. It celebrates God’s faithfulness to a daughter who longed for her mother to know the joy of encountering God’s Spirit in Scripture. I offer this story not only to celebrate the TNIV, but to also to encourage those who feel their prayers are unanswered.
An avid C. S. Lewis reader and Bible thumper from an early age, my zeal for God was a little too intense for most members of my family, particularly my parents. My biblical ponderings were far from seeker-sensitive, and did little to convince or persuade my closest relatives. Needless to say, my passion as a new Christian was viewed with suspicion, and even a little disdain.
Moderation in all things was an unspoken expectation in my home, particularly when it came to religion. While faith in God was viewed as a positive cultural element, my parents considered it unhealthy when taken to zealous extremes. I was viewed as a zealot, not only because I loved to read and discuss the Bible, but also because I wanted to attend seminary. My hope for my parents’ sympathies and support proved mostly inopportune.
In an effort to make spiritual inroads with my family, I gave Bibles and devotional literature as gifts. This effort created a few tense moments during holidays and birthdays. Even after years of prayers and evangelistic efforts on my part, my parents showed little interest in studying the Bible. Who would have expected the release of the TNIV would change all of this?
When the full TNIV Bible was released earlier this year, I pondered the wisdom of sending a copy to every member in my family. Though it seemed the perfect opportunity, I had learned to be cautious, and perhaps I was also a bit discouraged.
Yet, the more I did read the TNIV, the more it seemed an ideal translation for my parents. They were both born and raised outside the United States, so they spoke English as their second language. And, since they are mostly retired, perhaps they would now have the leisure to enjoy the Bible, if only for its literary pleasure. I couldn’t resist. I started with my mother.
I chose the TNIV with the bright red cover, and sent it for Mother’s Day. Mother is an artist, and I knew the beautiful cover would inspire her to pick up the Bible. Yet, I was genuinely surprised that the translation really proved to be a portal to Bible study. There was something about the way the English reads in the TNIV that God used to draw her in.
Though an avid reader and a teacher by profession, my mother had never read the Bible from cover to cover. Perhaps she never felt she had the time or interest to explore the Scriptures in great depth, in a personal way, or perhaps my over-the-top-zeal had inoculated her to it, who can say? But, the TNIV seemed to change that. This Bible was somehow different. Everyone was surprised to find my mother spending hours each day reading her red Bible.
Not only did she begin to read the Bible daily, she also began sending me weekly updates on her progress. In nearly every phone call or e-mail, Mother would apprise me of what portion of Scripture had captured her attention, and what new discovery she had made as a result. I phoned one Saturday afternoon, and after a brief review of the week, Mother seemed eager to wrap up our conversation so that she could return to her TNIV. She was reading the Gospel according to Matthew, and had the goal of finishing the book that day.
How do I explain her newfound passion for the Scriptures? Was it the translation that promised to bring to life English, for those with a different native language? Was it the Spirit meeting Mother in the text? Was it an answer to years of prayer? I suspect all of these factors came into play in my Mother’s new-found delight in the Bible.
Like all prayers that come true, God is able to do more than we might ask or imagine. I praise God for the TNIV, the translation team, the publisher, and the International Bible Society; all of whom remained faithful to a translation that is changing lives.